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This article was originally published May 14, 2010
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TORONTO (www.miningweekly.com) – Mining companies based in the US and Canada find themselves in a strange situation.
With demand for commodities from China and India still red hot, and, as the rest of the world begins to clamber back from the Great Recession, most producers are cranking out all they can to take advantage of high prices and widening margins.
But, while bottom lines are thriving, the industry is having to defend its actions domestically and abroad to an increasingly hostile public.
The death of 29 coal miners at a West Virginia mine in April galvanised antimining sentiment in the US, and President Barrack Obama’s public criticism of the mine’s owner, Massey Energy, and attendance at the memorial service for the fallen men, has helped keep the tragedy in local and international headlines.
And in December last year, Canadian governor-general Michaëlle Jean was subjected to chants of ‘Canada go home’ on a visit to Mexico, where antimining protests took centre stage during her trip.
A month earlier, Canadian miners watched in frustration as environmental and human rights groups marched dozens of witnesses before Parliamentary committee hearings, to relate allegations – some nothing short of horrific – of Canada-based miners’ involvement in human rights and environmental crimes abroad.
The November 2009 hearings were held to discuss the contentious private members Bill C-300, which has proven a flashpoint for both miners and their opponents.